A least half of eighth graders tested in science failed to demonstrate even a basic understanding of the subject in 9 of 10 major cities, and fourth graders, the only other group tested, fared little better.
The outcome of those tests, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the nation’s report card, showed that student performance in urban public schools was not only poor but also far short of science scores in the nation as a whole.
Half or a little more of the eighth-grade students in Charlotte, San Diego and Boston lacked a basic grasp of science.
In six of the other cities — New York, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Atlanta — the share of eighth graders without that knowledge was even higher, ranging from about three-fifths in New York to about four-fifths in Atlanta. By comparison, the corresponding share for the nation as a whole was 43 percent.
Among the 10 cities, only in Austin were the eighth graders who lacked a basic understanding in the minority, and just barely there.
“It’s a national disgrace,” said Rodger W. Bybee, director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, which develops and evaluates science curriculums and promotes the teaching of science. “We as a nation should be able to do better than that.”